"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Silence of the Lambs

There is a new biography of Roald Dahl.

Check out this review in the L.A. Times:

For those who do not know Dahl’s grown-up stories, one of his most beloved — if I may use that word — is called “Pig” (1959), about an orphan raised by a tender, vegetarian aunt. The boy’s talents as a young vegetarian chef are depicted in a magical, mystical tone. When the aunt dies, the boy buries her and goes to the city where he encounters, gasp … pork! He loves it, and ends up with his throat slit by a butcher. Pure horror.

“Storyteller” is a dense, satisfying book about a mercurial author. The biographer, Donald Sturrock, frankly addresses Dahl’s darker moods and speculates as to their origins in biographical details. Dahl did face struggles in childhood and as a parent, but so do many, and some even worse. What, then, can explain his dark charisma, the beauty of his threatening prose? It seems that like a character in a folk tale, he was just so inclined. And, then, in a stroke of good luck, he was at an early age introduced to folkloric, literary stories and fell in love especially with Hillaire Belloc’s “Cautionary Tales for Children” and “The Classic Fairy Tales” by Iona and Peter Opie.

Though the details of Dahl’s life — his affairs and his losses — are told sensitively here, and are riveting, “Storyteller” is most fascinating when it retells and analyzes his body of work for grown-ups and children, revealing them to be cut from the very same cloth as that of fairy tales. As Walter Benjamin wrote, “The first true storyteller is, and will continue to be, the teller of fairy tales.” As with all the great fairy-tale authors, Dahl makes them new, revisiting the themes of childhood, violence, power and magic.

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver